Read the poem below several times. As you reflect on the poem and literary elements, respond to the following statements and questions in a journal writing consisting of 250 – 300 words. Use details from the text (poem) to support your responses. 1) Identifythemes in the poem. 2) Highlight the point at which the speaker’s tone changes. Explain why the tone changes. 3) Who are the victims? 4) What does the word “this” mean in “given it all away and had nothing / left but this”? (Lines 25 and 26).
“The Victims” by Sharon Olds
When Mother divorced you, we were glad. She took it and
took it, in silence, all those years and then
kicked you out, suddenly, and her
kids loved it. Then you were fired, and we
5 grinned inside, the way people grinned when
Nixon’s helicopter lifted off the South
Lawn for the last time.8 We were tickled
to think of your office taken away,
your secretaries taken away,
10 your lunches with three double bourbons,
your pencils, your reams of paper. Would they take your
suits back, too, those dark
carcasses hung in your closet, and the black
noses of your shoes with their large pores?
15 She had taught us to take it, to hate you and take it
until we pricked with her for your
annihilation, Father. Now I
pass the bums in doorways, the white
slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their
20 suits of compressed silt, the stained
flippers of their hands, the underwater
fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the
lanterns lit, and I wonder who took it and
took it from them in silence until they had
25 given it all away and had nothing
left but this. 1984
8 When Richard Nixon resigned the U.S. presidency on August 8, 1974, his exit from the White House (by helicopter from the lawn) was televised live.
Olds, Sharon. “The Victims.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Shorter Tenth Edition.
Ed. Allison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2010. 810.